sainsbury asda merger
REUTERS/Phil Noble/File Photo

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has extended the deadline for its decision on the proposed merger of Sainsbury’s and Asda to 30 April.

The statutory deadline to publish the final report of the in-depth Phase 2 investigation, which began on 19 September 2018, was 5 March 2019.

The CMA is required to publish the report within a period of 24 weeks from the start of Phase 2. However, the agency could extend that period by no more than eight weeks if there are ‘special reasons’.

The revised administrative timetable published today (11 February) shows the watchdog is set to notify its provisional findings and possible remedies this month.

The agency has earlier revealed during a Competition Appeal Tribunal hearing that it is proceeding on the assumption that an eight week extension is “almost inevitable.”

The Tribunal has granted an application filed by the supermarkets asking for more time to respond to inquiry documents sent by the CMA.

Sainsbury’s and Asda, the UK arm of Walmart, announced the merger on 30 April 2018, which will join together the UK’s second and third-biggest supermarket chains.